Indulgent UK confectionery ranges see major spike in sales, despite new HFSS legislation

key confectionery and wider food brands retailing ranges that are not compliant with HFSS (high fat, salt and sugar) regulations within the UK have seen a 27% surge in sales in the wake of the new legislation last year, which aimed to expand healthier options, reports Neill Barston.

The findings emerged from retail analysis group Reapp, using enhanced AI assistance to examine consumer spending patterns during the past 12 months, with the data revealing that Brits have maintained their love of indulgent treats.

As Confectionery Production has previously reported, the HFSS legislation had long been called for by leading health charities, and organisations including Action on Sugar, have campaigned on the issue, with the region experiencing an obesity crisis with a third of children considered clinically obese by the age of secondary school.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government had been set to put forward broader strategies in response to the situation, including restriction on advertising of HFSS product ranges – this had been due to come in at the start of 2023 – which has now been further delayed until 2025 in the wake of food and drink sector lobbying, asserting a negative impact on the sector.

However, as the latest study asserts, brands have “skillfully adapted to the legislation” in delivering growth across chocolate, sweets and chilled desserts with increases in average sales volume and value since the introduction of the legislation.

This has seen chocolate sales rise by an additional £50 million in the last year, seeing an average increase of more than half a million units sold each month, reaching just under 16 million total chocolates sold since October. Furthermore, Sales of chilled desserts such as ice creams, cakes and yoghurts rocketed 75% in volume since October 2022 – equating to an extra £3.8 million worth in sales value.

Significantly, the research also found that sweets saw sales increase to over 2 million units since the laws came into force, as an extra 100,000 units were sold per month across major supermarkets.

Notably, this comes despite significant inflation impacting right across the food sector, which had been running at 40-year highs earlier in 2023, though the rate has now decreased across the sector in recent months. It is now reportedly at an average price inflation of 9% occurred across key snacking categories since last October.

Conversely, the market for healthier ranges had yet to witness any noticeable change in the past year, witnessing less than 1% increases in sales over 2022, which showed a clear preference on the part of consumers for more indulgent items.

James Lamplugh, Reapp Commercial Director, said: “Looking back on the first year of HFSS legislation, our latest in-depth analysis shows flavour, taste and experience unequivocally remain the top factors in understanding what drives consumer trends.

“Brands have demonstrated real skill in adapting to legislation to deliver growth. Retailers too have been savvy with their promotion to retain customer loyalty.

“Not only this, with inflation and the cost of living crisis being huge factors in our lives, consumers found themselves staying at home more, driving the ‘Big Night In’ trend where we see shoppers treating themselves to little luxuries such as chocolate and confectionery.”


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